What Happened?

The middle class lost ground (as did the poor) relative to the top quintile of the five household income brackets from the 1970s through the 2000s. Real (that is, inflation-adjusted) incomes stagnated or diminished for all but the top quintile from the 1970s through the 2000s (as discussed in Chapter 3). If incomes stop growing and prices keep rising—even by a little each year—people lose ground financially.

Room for Argument

Several arguments surround the issue of whether the middle class lost ground over the past few decades. Some have to do with how income is calculated and considered, and some concern other factors.
The first argument states that judging income growth by examining household income is not as valid as judging ...

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